This IWC bracelet has completely transformed the wearing experience of my “go anywhere, do anything” timepiece, the Mark XV. RJ often advises always getting the factory bracelet on a watch whenever possible. No truer words have been spoken, it seems, as my journey in trying to acquire a bracelet for my IWC Mark XV finally paid off. It was a search that lasted well over a year.

A watch with perfect dimensions for me

The IWC Mark XV ref. IW325301 has perfect dimensions for me. It has a 38mm case diameter, a (just over) 9mm thickness (almost 11 if you include the crystal), and a 47mm lug-to-lug. The heavily modified ETA 2892 caliber inside provides reliability, durability, and easy serviceability.

The dimensions, which create an excellent wearing experience, are backed up with durable build quality. In the 1990s and early 2000s, IWC was on fire in this regard. The water resistance rating of 6 bar and screw-down crown mean this is a watch that can handle snorkeling or an ocean swim without any worry. IWC states this on its page on water resistance ratings, and if you own an IWC, it’s worth taking a look.

IWC seems to describe its water resistance ratings differently from many other brands in the industry. According to IWC, any watch that is tested to 3 bar can be taken swimming. When I consider what I need in a watch with a bracelet, I want something that can handle getting wet.

IWC Mark XV on bracelet

My GADA watch needed a metal bracelet

I found myself wearing my Mark XV quite a lot. The challenge, however, was always the strap situation. You see, this watch came with its original IWC leather strap. And while it’s a well-made strap, it is not something you want to take into the ocean. The 19mm lug spacing made finding suitable aftermarket options a difficult, though not impossible, prospect.

IWC has a tradition of making very nice bracelets. The consensus is that bracelets from the 1990s and early 2000s IWC sports watches generally knocked Rolex out of the park in terms of clasp quality. That situation has changed, though, as Rolex has improved its bracelet form tremendously in the last 15 years.

IWC Mark XV on bracelet

Three generations of bracelets

The problem was finding one for my IWC Mark XV. There have been at least three iterations of the bracelet for this watch. The first generation had a more mesh-like look and was a direct carryover in terms of design from the Mark XII. You can see an example here. Analog:Shift also has an example here. Then the pyramid or brick-style bracelet came in. You can see an example of that second-generation bracelet here.

The third generation, which is the one I ended up getting, has the same pyramid pattern but with the second and fourth rows of links raised while the first, third, and fifth rows maintain the same thickness as the end link. Luckily, my favorite from a design perspective is the most recent version. It gives the watch a “toolier” vibe and seems more robust than the first generation, which looks dressier to me.

Getting an IWC Mark XV bracelet

Getting a bracelet of any iteration was a big challenge. They seemed to very rarely come up for sale secondhand. Thankfully, and to my surprise, IWC still makes these bracelets. Even though the watch hasn’t been produced since 2005, the bracelets can still be ordered from IWC. The part number is IWA13652, though you should prepare yourself for a significant expense if you want to go this route. Anyway, after an unsuccessful search for a secondhand version, I bit the bullet and contacted IWC about getting a new one.

For me, the expense was well worth it. Because of the high sentimental value of my watch (a gift from my father), I would never relinquish this Mark XV. I also fully intend for it to be passed down in the family. In addition, it just looks supremely cool on the bracelet, which accentuates its tool-watch aesthetic while remaining elegant.

An email one year later about my IWC Mark XV bracelet

A year after putting in my request, an email came in, letting me know that my bracelet had finally arrived. This was just as exciting, if not more so, than getting a new timepiece. There had been such a journey to get to this stage, so it felt like there’d been a significant build-up in excitement.

Now for a quick diversion, if I may. In the year preceding that email from IWC, I had experimented with the Forstner 9-Row Beads of Rice bracelet. This was a great option for my Mark XV, and it felt quite comfortable on the wrist. I’d even taken it swimming in a lake in Germany’s Black Forest, where it performed admirably. But the Forstner bracelet proved a little too dressy for my tastes. For those seeking an option for a 19mm lug spacing, though, these bracelets are worth further investigation.

When I finally put the IWC bracelet on, I could feel the immense quality from the start. This is a bracelet that brings joy through the small details. Being brushed, it doesn’t bling my Mark XV up in any way, which I like. The level of articulation and the small gaps in the five rows of links create a wearing experience that is perfect for warmer days. A simple clasp with a push-button release keeps the watch firmly on the wrist without adding any bulk to its underside.

IWC Mark XV on bracelet

Final thoughts

Chasing down a bracelet for my IWC Mark XV was a learning experience for me. You see, I was not always one to automatically buy a watch with a factory bracelet. While some watch companies produce better bracelets than others, the challenge of finding a bracelet for a watch no longer in production has instilled in me this lesson: it’s always better to start with a bracelet than to try to get one later on. Well, now that I have this bracelet, I just need to take it on some aquatic adventures and maybe add a scratch or two.

What do you think, Fratelli? Have you ever had to try to track down a bracelet for a watch with special sentimental value? If so, what was the watch, and how did that hunt go? I’d love to read your stories in the comments.